Corvette prototypes have taken countless forms over the years. Here’s a furtive attempt at a 1963 Sting Ray four-seater from GM Styling.
The Chevrolet Corvette story, which now spans eight decades, features a number of fascinating twists and turns along the way. Here’s one that, fortunately for the Corvette legacy—in our opinion, anyway—never got the green light for production: a four-seat version of the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray.
In Corvette lore, the executive responsible for the 2+2 Sting Ray (internal code name XP-796) was GM’s powerful car and truck boss, Ed Cole, who looked on in envy as the four-place Ford Thunderbird continued to rack up impressive sales figures year after year. Of course, the notion of a Corvette with a rear seat was not entirely original (read our feature on the 1956 Corvette Impala here) and in the Motor City, the traditional rule of thumb is that a two-seater is a niche product by definition, while a four-seat package has real volume potential. The ’63 Sting Ray redesign was an expensive and ambitious undertaking for Chevrolet, so we can understand Cole’s instinct for covering his bets.
While the GM styling crew led by Bill Mitchell reportedly hated the four-seat Sting Ray variant, they did an admirable job trying to make the proportions work out. In the photo at the top of this page, a careful camera angle nearly conceals the awkward stretch job, but a normal side view gives away the game: The chassis and the graceful Sting Ray profile have been stretched a good six inches to create a rear passenger area. And even so, the folding 2+2 seating (above) is probably even less comfortable than it looks.
The one-off prototype was shown to the company brass in around January of 1962 in the GM styling studios, parked next to a new Thunderbird to provide the obvious competitive benchmark. It was there, as the story goes, that GM president John F. Gordon was trying out the rear seat when a front seat latch jammed, trapping him inside. And although he was quickly rescued, that, they say, was pretty much the end of the four-seat Sting Ray project.
Article courtesy of Mac's Motor City Garage.